Consider with me a love story about what real love is and what love moves us to do. The story takes place a long time ago with a couple who shared in the most important work in the world in their time. They had everything that they needed from a physical standpoint. They had an abundance of fresh food. They would never be in want. Their work itself was interesting and fulfilling and would have a global impact. They always appreciated each other’s ideas and points of view and were thankful they were together. On top of that, their boss was wise and caring and would meet with them, daily assuring them of his care. In their work, they had freedom and creative license. It truly was the perfect scenario.
There was only one rule for them to follow. Adam and Eve definitely had everything going for them. It was truly wonderful to be in a relationship between two beings without the pollution of sin. But all of that was shattered when sin entered into the world. How is this a love story? It would not have been if it had not been for the first act of forgiveness.
The covenant God made in the garden had its blessings as well as its stipulations and consequences for not following it perfectly. God’s only stipulation for a continued relationship with him was that they should not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. God’s heart was for Adam and Eve: he had given them the best of everything, especially himself. Their disobedience brought chaos and catastrophic changes to everything and every relationship they knew. They ushered sin into the world which brought about death, suffering, and isolation from God. Their sin in the garden had left them in a desperate situation. For the first time, they found themselves experiencing fear and isolation from the one who loved them most. The full weight & expression of sin was realized in their separation from God, his creation, and death to all who would be born after them. The one who had given them life, would now bring about their death. They hid in the garden with no means of escape.
If we pause, we might hear them ask the question “who will deliver me from this body of death?” Compelled by his love, God moves toward them by walking in the garden, calling for his lost children. It is the Lord who comes to their rescue, the one whose son they have unknowingly sentenced to death. He pronounces a curse but also a promise of grace. In their nakedness they cover themselves but he comes to them with animal skins. Death was the cost of the restored relationship between God and his image-bearers. The sacrificial animal that the Lord covered them with was a picture of what he would endure himself. He promises in Genesis 3:15 that he would send someone from Eve’s offspring to crush the head of the serpent, though he would be bruised on the heal. He himself came to them in the garden. His coming was one of the most profound demonstrations of love in redemptive history. This foreshadowed the most significant demonstration of love, his own coming to die on the cross. His love moves towards them; He himself comes and covers them. That is true love. His love compels the Father to act and he goes to them. He one day would cover them and die for them and for us.
Love is a costly gift that moves us towards others. This is most powerfully expressed when we have been sinned against. It is interesting that Adam and Eve do not repent. There is nothing to indicate that they asked for forgiveness or had a change of heart before he came and covered them. Even afterwards, they blame shift. Beholding the love of God through his forgiveness of Adam and Eve reveals the heart of our Father. This heart is is to love through forgiving. You see the same love through Jesus on the cross when he says “forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.” This same action of coming and redeeming is repeated throughout the Old Testament , culminated in the cross and continues as he gathers his people throughout the world.
Are there people in your life that God is calling you to move towards but their sin against you makes that difficult? What enables us to do this in our relationships? What does this look like practically in our marriages? Family life? Love takes the initiative with a forgiving heart. It is the way we are called to love one another. It is the way we have been loved. Love moves us towards one another in the same way the Father does in our lives.